NSW GREENS politician Mehreen Faruqi is “constantly in awe” at the grassroots resilience against the giant mining corporations “that seek to trample all over communities and the environment”.
As the party’s environmental spokesperson, she visited the Liverpool Plains to meet with the farmers fighting against the proposed Shenhua coal mine.
“In many ways it’s a David versus Goliath battle, but every time I am here, the movement is stronger and stronger,” Dr Faruqi said.
“There is absolutely no social license for coal mining in these fertile agricultural areas. Farmers are furious that the NSW Government hasn’t outright cancelled the exploration licence for the Shenhua Watermark coal mine.
“The NSW Government buying back part of the Shenhua exploration license is a furphy, and only removed land that Shenhua was unlikely to mine anyway. Our food bowl and water is still at risk and we can’t let that happen.”
Dr Faruqi also met with anti-coal seam gas groups, who took her to the proposed coal seam gas site in the Pilliga forest, near Narrabri.
“Touring the Pilliga again it’s plainly obvious that this is an incredibly biodiverse region which is at threat from fragmentation due to hundreds of gas wells,” she said.
“Our future is renewables, not dirty coal seam gas that destroys our water and land.”
Dr Faruqi will take a number of questions back to parliament as a result of the tour and seek answers from various ministers.
Farmers welcome politicians to see for themselves
Quirindi farmer and Greens candidate in the 2017 New England by-election, Peter Wills, called Mehreen Faruqi’s visit a “cross-pollination of ideas”.
“She filled us in on what is going on in the background in Macquarie Street and got her up to date on what’s happening here on the plains,” Mr Wills said.
“While we get mixed messages from other parties, the Greens have been one of our most ardent supporters.”
Liverpool Plains farmer John Hamperson said the community appreciated visits from anyone “involved in the decision making process”.
“Too often we find people making decisions with no true knowledge of where the mine is, how close it is to agricultural areas or how close it is to the aquifer,” Mr Hamperson said.
“We’ve been asking Premier Gladys Berejiklian to come out since she came to power and we’ve received no response at all.”
Breeza farmer Andrew Pursehouse, whose property is right next to the proposed Shenhua mine site, said there was an open invitation to politicians of all persuasions.
“Once they physically see it, it’s easily understood,” he said.
Ive been touring the Pilliga with the fantastic Coonabarabran Residents Against Gas. An incredibly biodiverse region at threat from hundreds of gas wells.— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) February 28, 2018
Our future is renewable not in dirty coal seam gas that destroys our water and land. #auspol#nswpolpic.twitter.com/dqcJsrFAmV